Life before Facebook Newsfeed

Almost 15 years ago, finding out what your friends were up to meant going to individual FB pages to check on them. Click. Read. Click. Read. In 2006, one of Zuckerberg’s famous notebook sketches came to life – news feed. Hence the scroll was born and we’ve been scrolling ever since. And Mark Zuckerberg has been answering time and again over its effect.

Now the norm, news feed’s arrival was wildly unpopular. Actually “This SUCKS” was the collective comment; complaints of creepy and stalker-like were the reaction. Ten percent of FB users joined groups (ironically on Facebook) demanding its removal. FB itself simmered internally with controversy over keeping it versus trashing it.  The solution came as a compromise: opt-in privacy settings that allow control over who sees the news feed. Makes sense . . . because that’s what we’ve lived for years now. Scroll. Scroll. Scroll.

This isn’t a recall lesson for FB devops; this is for us to remember. 1) We consumers don’t like change for the most part. Unless there’s a huge visible upside, we fight the upsets to our expectations of how life should go. 2) Great ideas – even game changers – need tweaking. Don’t be afraid or too proud to see the faults in your work. Take the edits; listen to the critics. There’s going to be unintended consequences to any magical kingdom. 

Mark Zuckerberg may always have the ego to conquer the world with his creation. But he’s also admitted to failure. He has also adapted to the responsibility. His famous “Move fast and break things” became people’s lives – sometimes literally. And I doubt he’s seen his last appearance before Congress.